Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to work fast with flash

Toast animation is complete now. It's well over one minute, but I've set up everything in a symbol hierarchy that will let me easily cut out shots or shorten them without much effort. All in all,it took me 1 week to come up with it and make the animatic, and two more weeks to draw everything and animate it in flash. And I didn't work on it all that much really (I'd say no more than 2-3 hours a day, and some days I didn't work on it at all). Some people might think that I went through like 18 hours of work every day or something.Those people just have no idea how to use flash efficiently.

The reason I managed to complete it that quick is because I knew how to take advantage of fash's features.

So here's how to work faster with flash animations:

- The storyboard animatic is key to good planning. It will help you figure out the timing of the scenes and you can even draw over it in flash (if it's drawn well).

- Good character libraries and fla file structure - is key for efficient production. Keeping everything in symbol hierarchies will enable you to layer animations, time them and position them quickly.It will greatly simplify your work flow. Some people don't want to do it,and will go with frame by frame. I think thats just crazy.

Using symbols and tweens and even armatures will also make your fla file easier to further edit. Imagine you are working on something like this in a group. If you don't have a well structured source file, taking out animations out of it and reusing them will be a living hell for your colleagues.

-Reusing graphics - In flash, you can easily reuse a lot of your graphics. If you draw the base of a head once, you dont have to redraw it every time your character changes expression. To do that, you must separate the base, the eyes, the eyebrows (and even the nose if you like) on layers and symbols. You can move and transform everything too. And even while drawing, keeping everything on separate layers means that you can copy and alter easily.If you have separated your character to: head,torso,upper arm> down arm> hand, upper leg> down leg> foot symbols, you can reuse some of them- no need to draw them all over.

- Reusing animations- The eyes symbol will contain variations of the blinking animation. The mouth symbol- variations of the mouth. And you can tell flash when is that variation or animation going to be played and replay it. You don't have to draw all the expressions all over. The same applies for body animations. If you have something that can be looped, just loop it. If there is a movement of the character or his head that is kind of like in a previous shot- just take the one from the previous shot and alter it slightly. You will be able to do that easily if your symbol hierarchies are good.

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